Study Guide

Where Angels Fear to Tread Hypocrisy

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E.M. Forster's favorite game is poking fun at the ridiculousness and hypocrisy of English society. As readers, we can laugh at Forster's pompous or pathetic characters, but we're also being shown the damage that can result from human beings passing judgment on one another. In Where Angels Fear To Tread, stuffy rules and expectations dictate everyday life, leading to intolerance for anything that doesn't follow social convention.

The Herritons don't care a hoot about Lilia's baby son, but when they realize that the Sawston community might disapprove of their lack of familial involvement, the Herritons quickly dash off to "rescue" the poor child. This makes us want to dash off to punch Mrs. Herriton in the face.

Questions About Hypocrisy

  1. Does Mrs. Herriton realize she's being hypocritical or does she feel justified in acting the way that she does?
  2. Are there any acceptable forms of hypocrisy in the novel? Does Forster offer an alternative to hypocrisy?
  3. Does Forster think that people can fight against hypocrisy or is hypocrisy just a part of the way society works?

Chew on This

In Where Angels Fear to Tread, hypocrisy is the most common sin in English society.

Forster associates hypocrisy with immorality. No matter how wealthy or refined someone is, hypocrisy lowers a person's moral character.

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